CHAMPAIGN — Parents of Champaign school children should expect a note from the school district, warning about a man who approached an 11-year-old girl on Monday in west Champaign.
Police issued a warning about the incident on Tuesday afternoon.
A police news release says police got a call that a man approached the girl near Crescent Drive and John Street at about 3 p.m. Monday.
The girl was walking home from school north on Crescent Drive when she saw a man standing on the north side of John Street. When she crossed the street, the man jogged over to her, asked her name twice and asked her if she was walking home from school.
The girl didn't answer and the man followed her. As she started to run home, the man turned and walked in the opposite direction, toward Centennial High School.
According to the Champaign school district, the man was described as a white man in his mid-50s, bald on the top with gray hair on the sides of his head and a goatee, about 5 feet 10 inches tall and weighing about 250 pounds. He was wearing a white T-shirt, light blue jeans with holes in the knees and work boots.
The school district is sending word of the incident to parents via its email lists and in student backpacks, according to spokeswoman Stephanie Stuart.
Anyone with information is asked to contact the Champaign Police Department by calling (217) 351-4545. Callers can also remain anonymous by calling Crime Stoppers at 373-8477 or via text, by sending the phrase cctip plus the information to CRIMES (274637).
Police advise that children should be taught the following safety tips:
1. Trust their instincts about people and situations. If the situation or environment doesn't feel right, it probably isn't.
2. Avoid assisting strangers with finding directions, lost pets or other requests. Adults know to get assistance and it should not be from a child.
3. Be aware of their surroundings at all times, especially if they feel like they are being followed.
4. Yell, scream or kick to get the attention of others.
5. Tell a trusted adult; someone they feel will believe them and act on their concerns.
6. Contact police immediately, it increases the likelihood of officers locating a potential suspect.